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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Gateway AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Gateway AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Gateway AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Gateway AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Gateway AK homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Gateway AK home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gateway AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Gateway AK program you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Gateway AK business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Gateway AK colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Gateway AK colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Gateway home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gateway AK, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Gateway Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.